“My husband tried to kill me!” That’s what my four kids heard as the cashier rang up our groceries. I saw my nine year old looking on with a puzzled expression, his mouth half open. In that moment I knew that I would need to explain to my kids the difference between literal and figurative language…and a few other things. As we settled into the car I began the conversation, “Hey guys, thank you for being patient as the cashier rang up our groceries. I know she talked about a lot of things and you might not know exactly how to feel about what you heard so let’s talk about it. She’s had some bad things happen in her life. When she said her husband tried to kill her, he didn’t really try to kill her. Basically he treated her badly and did unkind things. Thankfully, she was invited to church and now God is helping her, which is why she was so excited to share her story. I know you don’t always like it when people stop us to talk and I completely understand how you feel. But think about it, how cool is it that we get to be a part of what God is doing in people’s lives? Because someone invited her to church, the cashier knows who God is and she’s experiencing his love. That’s so exciting!”
Our conversation lasted until we arrived home. Not only did they have questions, they also had their own opinions to share. Children hear more and see more than we sometimes realize. Although the scenarios may seem harmless, children don’t have the necessary tools to properly process the information they’re receiving. Initiating conversations allows us to shape their lives, to make them a part of the ministry, and to deeply connect hearts. If I had ignored the strong statement our cashier made that day, my kids could have left thinking that her husband literally tried to kill her. In addition, I would have missed an awesome opportunity to discuss the importance of making wise choices in life. Seriously, these conversations are my favorite!
Whatever their age, you can have age appropriate discussions with your children. I encourage you to do the following:
- Acknowledge that your children hear, see, and feel more than you realize.
- Include your children when you celebrate the good stuff.
- Include your children when you navigate the bad stuff.
- Use real-life experiences to shape their lives. Give them the opportunity to apply the principle to their lives. What ifs? Consequences. Making wise choices.
- Always make yourself available to your children if they need to talk.
Life in the ministry is full of unexpected moments that can actually assist us in raising confident, wise, and purpose-filled children. We’d love to hear your feedback regarding possible “sticky” moments in ministry. How do you handle unusual ministry moments with your children?